“Mom, I’m almost 10,” my daughter said, as she looked at me from the back seat with a smile on her face.
“Oh really?” I asked. “How’s that?”
“Because soon all be seven, then eight, then nine, and then 10,” she replied confidently.
She’s only six years old, and yet she’s always looking forward to the next milestone that is her birthday. Of course, I was guilty of the same thing at her age — I always wanted to be the same age as the “big kids.” And even now, as a mom in my thirties, I so desperately wish that I’d stop looking ahead all the time and just live in the moment.
My youngest daughter just turned four last week, so threw her a birthday party over the weekend. By the next morning, she was running up to me and telling me all about the party she wanted to have next year, when she turns five. It was coming up soon, she quickly reminded me, and I needed to start planning.
She was four for a mere 24 hours, and yet she was already thinking about turning five.
But I get it — as kids, it’s only natural to want to be older. We see some of the seemingly cooler things that the big kids get to do, and we so want to be a part of all that. For me, it was seeing everyone else get their driver’s licenses way before I did, or legally walk into a bar and order drink while I was still under-age in college. I was always just looking ahead; always eagerly awaiting the next milestone.
Now looking back, I feel that I missed out on so many moments in my life, just because I was far too focused on what I wanted to do years into the future. I forgot to actually enjoy the hear and now; and I don’t want my kids to do the same.
So now, just as I try to truly live in each moment myself, I encourage my children to do the same. Rather than ask them about things they want to do, or who they want to be when they grow up, I try and focus them on things we are doing right now. We talk about what our favorite moments were from the day; we talk about what’s on their mind. As much as I can, I’ve stopped telling them, “when you’re bigger … ” “next year we should … ” or “you have to be older to do that … ” and started focusing on “let’s do this,” “you can do that,” or “you are the perfect age for that.”
Because I know that one day, my kids won’t be so little anymore. Before I know it, they will be meeting those milestones that they’ve always looked forward to, and watching them fade into the rearview. The reality is that my six-year-old was right. Soon, she will be 10. And that’s why we have to make sure that she makes the most of six, seven, eight, and nine before we get there.
And it’s my job to help her do it.More On